The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Other Health Conditions: A Comprehensive Review

Hearing loss is a prevalent health issue, particularly among the older population. It's not just an isolated condition, but a part of a complex health web interconnected with various other chronic conditions.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Other Health Conditions: A Comprehensive Review

Hearing loss is a prevalent health issue, particularly among the older population. It's not just an isolated condition, but a part of a complex health web interconnected with various other chronic conditions. In this article, we'll explore the intricate relationship between hearing loss and other health conditions, its impact on individuals and society, and potential interventions to manage its debilitating effects.

Hearing Loss is Common 

Hearing loss is a chronic condition affecting a significant portion of the population, especially those aged 60 and above. According to the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (NHANES), the prevalence of hearing loss progressively increases with age. For instance, bilateral hearing loss was found in 26.8% of people aged 60-69, 55.1% of those aged 70-79, and an alarming 79.1% of those aged 80 and older. When unilateral hearing loss was factored in, the numbers rose even higher.

Conditions Often Associated with Hearing Loss

Chronic conditions often do not exist in isolation. They often coexist and interact with one another, and these are known as comorbidities. The connection between hearing loss and various chronic conditions is well documented. 

Here, we'll delve into seven comorbidities associated with hearing loss: 

  1. Social isolation and loneliness 
  2. Depression
  3. Balance problems and falls 
  4. Cardiovascular disease
  5. Diabetes
  6. Dementia
  7. Mortality

Social Isolation and Loneliness

Social isolation and loneliness are common consequences of hearing loss. The inability to communicate effectively can lead to feelings of loneliness, which can further trigger other health complications. Research has shown an important connection between early-onset hearing loss and increased feelings of loneliness.


Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, as it can make communication more difficult. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Additionally, the constant strain of trying to hear can lead to fatigue and stress, which can also contribute to depression.

Balance Problems and Falls

Hearing loss can also contribute to balance issues and falls among older adults. Studies have shown an association between increased fall risk and hearing loss. If something goes wrong with your inner ear, like if you have hearing loss, it might affect your balance too. That's because the same area is responsible for both jobs. 

Cardiovascular Disease

The inner ear is very sensitive to changes in blood flow. Conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, like heart disease, can reduce the amount of blood reaching the inner ear. This can cause damage that results in hearing loss.


Diabetes can lead to hearing loss because high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to how they can damage the eyes and kidneys. This damage can disrupt the normal functioning of the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.


There's a growing body of research suggesting a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, including dementia. One theory is that when the brain has to work harder to process sound, it may have less capacity to perform other cognitive tasks, leading to cognitive decline over time. Another theory is that hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which is a known risk factor for cognitive decline.


Severe or untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of mortality due to a variety of factors. These can include an increased risk of accidents due to not being able to hear warnings, increased cognitive load leading to overall health decline, and the potential for social isolation leading to depression and other mental health issues.

The Potential Benefits of Hearing Aids

While the above-discussed impacts of hearing loss are indeed concerning, there's a silver lining. Evidence suggests that the use of hearing aids can have a positive mitigating effect on several of these conditions. Let’s look at a few examples of how hearing aid can help the above comorbidities:

In the case of Dementia, hearing aids can help reduce the cognitive load on the brain. When hearing is improved, the brain doesn't have to work as hard to process sound, which may help slow cognitive decline. Additionally, being able to hear better can improve social engagement, which is beneficial for cognitive health.

Hearing aids can help alleviate the social isolation that often comes with hearing loss. By making it easier to communicate with others, hearing aids can help individuals maintain social connections and activities, which can reduce feelings of loneliness and depression.

Finally, research has shown that enhancing sound perception in individuals with hearing difficulties can improve their balance. By using hearing aids, your brain can receive and process a wider range of sounds, which helps it better understand your spatial positioning. A 2015 study by Washington State University demonstrated that participants showed improved balance when their hearing aids were activated compared to when they were turned off.

It’s Time to Treat Your Hearing Loss

Contrary to popular belief, age-related hearing loss is not a benign consequence of aging. It's intricately connected to a range of psychosocial and physiological conditions. 

For the Audiologists at Hearing Solution Center, an Audiology clinic in Charlotte, NC, understanding the multifaceted impacts of hearing loss is crucial. With a commitment to providing detailed, concise, and helpful medical information, we strive to make complex health information accessible and understandable while maintaining patient comfort and care. Our goal is to help our patients navigate the complexities of hearing loss and its associated conditions, ensuring they receive the best possible care.

Dr. Goutham Gosu has been practicing Audiology for the past 18 years and specializes in pediatric and adult hearing healthcare. He completed his graduate degree at Ohio University and received his doctorate in Audiology from AT Still University.

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